T.S. v. Gabbard

NJDC, along with several other interested organizations, signed onto an amicus brief filed by Juvenile Law Center to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit regarding the strip searches of juveniles in detention facilities.

In this case, juveniles were arrested after attending a middle school graduation party, charged with underage drinking, detained at a secure juvenile detention facility, and then strip searched upon admission. Upon arrival at the facility, the youth were taken into a private observation room with an adjoining shower and required to remove all clothing in the presence of a facility staff person, in accordance with facility policy. The staff person observed their nude bodies for signs of abuse, illness/infection, physical injury, and identifiable markings.

Amici argued that such searches are unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment. Further, amici argued that the harms suffered by the youth as a result of these invasive searches outweigh the detention facility’s interest in strip searching them. Amici asked the court to apply the Supreme Court of the United States’s jurisprudence on adolescent development and recognize that juveniles need special protections from invasive suspicionless searches.

Unfortunately, the Sixth Circuit held that the officials here were entitled to qualified immunity. The court did not reach the issue of the constitutionality of the strip searches.

Court: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Filed: November 15, 2012 (download .pdf)
Amicus Brief Discusses: Conditions of Confinement; Detention; Fourth Amendment; Strip Searches

Oral Argument: June 12, 2013
Decision
: February 5, 2014